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Wrinkled and Rankled
July 18, 2007 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Okay, it wasn't exactly banned, but the new Dove ad for their anti-aging products-- featuring tastefully nude older women-- was pre-emptively rejected by broadcast networks. Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty shares reactions, lets you meet the cast, and invites you to discuss. Previously on MetaFilter: Dove's short "Evolution" about how image-manipulation distorts beauty standards.
posted by hermitosis (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This seems stuntish to me. We're too real for teevee &c.
posted by grobstein at 7:19 PM on July 18, 2007


This ad isn't new -- it's been running on Canadian TV.
posted by evilcolonel at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2007


This sort of smells like Dove's happy the spot won't air on networks and using the opportunity to go all viral -- as the kids say -- with the campaign.

These spots could run on cable. Cable nets don't have standards and practices groups to pre-screen the ads.
posted by birdherder at 7:24 PM on July 18, 2007


Some hot GMILFs on there, I liked that ad.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:34 PM on July 18, 2007


Banned or not, I have a lot of respect for those women.
posted by sephira at 7:37 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


huh, seems pretty harmless but I guess people could say the legs and side-boobs are too racy.
posted by mathowie at 7:38 PM on July 18, 2007


Might lead to dancin', Matt.
posted by cortex at 7:42 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Side boobs?

I'd like to go on the record as being pro side boob.
posted by Keith Talent at 7:44 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think networks have a pretty firm "no nudity as centerpiece" rule. I certainly can't think of any nudes (not naked people covered by a towel or comically foregrounded golf bag) in commercials. I don't watch much tv, however.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:44 PM on July 18, 2007


We've moved on from torches of freedom.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:46 PM on July 18, 2007


I really don't know what to think about this Dove campaign. It's been going on down under for maybe a coupla years (?) now.

On one hand, good on 'em for attacking the beauty myth & showing real women. On the other hand, they're still peddling expensive fragrant slops of dubious effectiveness as 'beauty products'.

Mostly, though, I just see it as a cynical marketing gimmick, and not a serious attempt to push any kind of true feminist agenda.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:02 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So wait, does "pro-age" mean women who use these products look older? Will this help me take people like Lindsay Lohan more seriously?
posted by davy at 8:06 PM on July 18, 2007


I don't think Lindsay Lohan needs help prematurely aging herself; she's already had implants put in and taken out and been to rehab twice before even reaching the legal drinking age. Her birth certificate puts her at 21, but she has the internal biology of the Rolling Stones.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 8:13 PM on July 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Hey, I resemble that remark!
posted by BE ADEQUITE at 8:15 PM on July 18, 2007


Only a fool would mistake this as anything but a cynical marketing gimmick. You honestly think Unilever gives a toss about anything other than boosting its profit margins?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:16 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know what you mean, UbuRoivas. The "Campaign for Real Beauty" often leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. It is, above all else, a marketing campaign by a beauty-product company, a fact that blatantly undermines the goals of its 'campaign.'

But then, part of me is really pleased to see these ads out there. The more people saying things like this the better; the fewer ads that clearly aim to make women feel bad about their appearance the better. I see something like this, and I think, that would have made me feel better as a 13-year-old. It would have just been an ad, and it wouldn't have kept me from developing an eating disorder, but it would have made me feel a little more understood, a little kinder to myself and others.
posted by bookish at 8:18 PM on July 18, 2007


We need to change Society to the point where people like languagehat and me are thought of as debonair sex idols. Until then, well, side-boobs of attractive women my age are mere stop-gaps.
posted by davy at 8:21 PM on July 18, 2007


But then, hey, there must be hope: y'all kids already think Homer Simpsom is witty.
posted by davy at 8:22 PM on July 18, 2007


But can you say it 5x fast?


Sideboob stopgap! Sideboob stopgap! Sideboob stopgap! Sideboob stopgap! Sideboob stopgap!
posted by hermitosis at 8:22 PM on July 18, 2007


We need to change Society to the point where people like languagehat and me are thought of as debonair sex idols.

People already think I'm a debonair sex idol and I'm around half your age, right? It's coming along.
posted by jonmc at 8:27 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is just another annoying anti-female advertisement. You're getting old, ladies, and that's not good. Use our product to delay the inevitable and spare the world from looking at your aging hide in the meantime. There's a commercial currently airing for Botox that features a variety of women, but not one man. Maybe men don't use Dove, but don't tell me there aren't any males fighting those laugh lines with a little chemical help. And then there's this (fortunately, pulled after numerous complaints) commercial from the folks at Vagisil, who point out the inherent nastiness of women via the subtle imagery of skunks, blowfish and lobsters(?!).
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:56 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Side boobs?

I looked hard but didn't see much. You see more boobs every day on Entertainment Tonight


Call me cynical, but I'd bet the 'ban' was very much influenced by the age of the women. Shallow young 'hip' television executives don't want to look at women older than 25, regardless of the amount of clothing. The fact that there was less clothing simply geve them the excuse.

Lets get real here. What are the odds that the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest will get banned from the broadcast networks?
posted by eye of newt at 8:58 PM on July 18, 2007


Holy crap, Oriole Adams! That Vagisil ad is the coolest thing I've ever seen!

Yum, lobster.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:31 PM on July 18, 2007


There's something a bit disingenuous about all of this. It's like when Jane (or maybe Sassy) magazine started using not-completely-skinny girls as models and said "hey, normal size girls are still beautiful!" Maybe so, but they girls they picked were still "beautiful" and they're continuing to prey on women's insecurities, albeit in a slightly less destructive fashion.

Now put some real nasty lookin' bitches in one of those ads and I'll be impressed.
posted by dhammond at 9:42 PM on July 18, 2007


I don't think Lindsay Lohan needs help prematurely aging herself; she's already had implants put in and taken out and been to rehab twice before even reaching the legal drinking age. Her birth certificate puts her at 21, but she has the internal biology of the Rolling Stones.

You forgot the most important thing- chain smoking yourself to death.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:45 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm shocked a corporation could exhibit such good taste. Some of those women are real lookers. As for the ban, well, television execs have a very strong interest in not upsetting or disturbing their users. An unconventional understanding of beauty, unapologetic nudity, and females who don't seek to titillate or tease -- it's like why take the chance? If it ain't broken don't fix it and certainly don't take chances that have no solid payoff. Let's keep things simple.
posted by nixerman at 9:47 PM on July 18, 2007


"Now put some real nasty lookin' bitches in one of those ads and I'll be impressed."

Where IS Rob Zombie anyway?
posted by davy at 9:51 PM on July 18, 2007


This is just another annoying anti-female advertisement. You're getting old, ladies, and that's not good. Use our product to delay the inevitable and spare the world from looking at your aging hide in the meantime.

Naturally, though I think it's worth looking at their language more closely. They are pushing to portray their product as a health aid, backed by science. On their site, very little attention is given to the appearance changes the products might produce, and more is paid to "maintenance of healthy, vital skin" etc. "We Can Build You!" they seem to say. Science can make your skin last forever! (I am reminded of "the last human" in season one of the new Dr. Who...)

By that measure, it becomes more difficult to criticize their product more than any other cosmetics or pharmaceuticals shilled to any of us in the hopes of being prettier, younger, or just better. There's really no difference between young and old or male and female in terms of eligibility to seek augmentation through some commercial means. Women, and older women especially, just take a bigger segment of the cosmetic marketshare. Beauty, health, intellect, all of these granted gifts and more can be augmented technologically. We have been suspicioud about the abilities of cosmetics to do so, probably because they rarely do to a notable extent. However, if Dove's special wrinkle glop actually works for the purpose it claims, then the relationship between age and beauty (as defined by tight, smooth skin in this case) is changed, and they are entitled to such claims. It's still crass, obviously.

Shallow young 'hip' television executives don't want to look at women older than 25, regardless of the amount of clothing.

This is fallacious, given the many ads for old people products. TV execs know who's watching and who's buying, and when it comes to term life insurance, commemorative plates of Fleet glycerine suppositories, it ain't the hipsters.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:01 PM on July 18, 2007


Oriole Adams: that ad has a line that reeeeeally reminds me of a line from this.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:10 PM on July 18, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur: are you trying to say I'm not hip? I thought that batch of commemorative plates accidentally printed with ads for glycerine suppositories were the height of hipster kitsch., and they match my first-issue Hello Kitty cutlery so well...
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:21 PM on July 18, 2007


I just wanted to pop in and say that, back in the day, I was peripherally involved in a Dove marketing campaign that used a picture of a coworker and her mom, because both had been using Dove their whole lives, had great skin, and in particular the coworker's mom -- quite old, in fact -- had *amazing* skin, no retouching necessary.

It was nice to see one ad that I knew wasn't paid models pretending to use a product.
posted by davejay at 10:27 PM on July 18, 2007


To contradict a few comments in here I like Dove's campaign. The reality is that beauty (and healthfulness) is important to human beings. Encouraging varied expression and appreciation of that is good because then someone who can't possibly make themselves like the "ideal" can still feel good that they have a healthy, active and "beautiful" appearance. This is just as important for an older woman as well. And Dove does appear to be pushing products that are more towards maintaining your actual appearance rather than changing it. I.e. healthy, moisturized skin is beautiful regardless of whether your face is symmetrical or you are "perfectly" thin.

But yeah, they are shilling for products. :)
posted by R343L at 10:27 PM on July 18, 2007


So fucking what? Okay, those women are older. They're still beautiful. Let me know when Dove uses an actual honest-to-goodness ugly person in their ads, young or old. Then I'll be impressed.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:36 PM on July 18, 2007


davejay, I remember that ad, and I believed it. Those women looked great.

I like Dove. Dove sponsors women's events, sends me free samples in the mail all the time, and it smells good. And I have good skin, which is probably at least in part thanks to Dove. It's not very expensive, either. Now they are using real women in their ads instead of anorexic models. So what if it is a marketing ploy? It's still getting real women work.

Yeah, I'm a Dove fan.
posted by misha at 11:35 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


hm, misha, i think i'll have to just go out and buy some of this Dove TM
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:04 AM on July 19, 2007


I see something like this, and I think, that would have made me feel better as a 13-year-old.

That was the most emotionally manipulative thing I've seen on Youtube, perhaps ever.
posted by dreamsign at 1:26 AM on July 19, 2007


You know, if I want to see fat people, I'll look in the mirror.

I've dated fat women in the past and it's a body type I'm compatible with. I believe everybody can look beautiful if they take care of themselves and relax. I know this. I've seen proof.

That said, I'm not going to say that a flabby body looks as good as a muscular toned body, because that's just not true. Looks are superficial, of course, and that's an important point, but I appreciate the effort people take to look good.

On TV I want to see thin beautiful people, both male and female. I want to see breathtakingly gorgeous people, people so good looking that it's almost an academic study (I keep meaning to measure the angle of Brad Pitt's chin to see how he gets away with it).

I know it's unrealistic, but it's TV, for fuck's sake. In real life, people don't leap out of helicopters, or survive 10 bullet wounds, or get over their sister's death just in time for the next episode... But they do on TV.

TV isn't real life. We know this. We accept it. We are not idiots.

If Dove think they're going to solve body dysmorphia by showing fat older women in their adverts, they're also idiots. It's just a publicity stunt to sell more soap.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:29 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Solve it? What would they sell if they solved it? Mirrors?

on preview: your very next sentence.
posted by dreamsign at 1:46 AM on July 19, 2007


And seeing the "feminism" tag on this marketing job is making my blood boil.

This is "You need a shampoo that's made for your pH level" feminism.
posted by dreamsign at 1:55 AM on July 19, 2007


Maybe men don't use Dove....

I doooo.
The best deodorant I've ever used. Now, if only they'd package the same thing under a manly name. I'm thinking "Hemingway's Ball-Sweat".
posted by 235w103 at 2:33 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


One thing to remember, especially when you see Dove's "Real Beauty" crap is that Unilever is one of the world's largest pushers of skin lightening creams. See here for an English dubbed example.

Not only is there the entire racial problem, but such products are quite damaging to the skin when used long term, and some studies have suggested that their frequent use is linked to an elevated risk of skin cancer.

So Dove can go fuck themselves with their bullshit "Campaign for Real Beauty".
posted by sotonohito at 3:52 AM on July 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Hey, old folks! You're not too old to give us money!"

But hey, I'd probably hit it. Older ladies are sweet, spunky, and have lots of stories to tell. Just let them sleep on the side of the bed closest to the bathroom.
posted by Eideteker at 3:59 AM on July 19, 2007


But hey, I'd probably hit it. Older ladies are sweet, spunky, and have lots of stories to tell. Just let them sleep on the side of the bed closest to the bathroom.

Your comment doesn't quite have the eloquence of Maggie May, but we get your point.
posted by humblepigeon at 4:29 AM on July 19, 2007


Dove also has a Self Esteem Fund, which I am annoyed about. Had I known self-esteem could be bought, my teenage years would have been much easier. Luckily kids today have altruistic companies willing to sell them a bar of soap self esteem.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:50 AM on July 19, 2007


And seeing the "feminism" tag on this marketing job is making my blood boil.

I didn't add that tag because I think this is a shining example of feminism. I added it so that people searching for "feminism" will find this thread and this discussion, which I (correctly) assumed would contain many relevant points and reactions regarding women's bodies and the media. So simma dah nah.
posted by hermitosis at 4:51 AM on July 19, 2007


It's very hard to sport wood during a one minute spot.
Let the ladies dance!
posted by doctorschlock at 7:00 AM on July 19, 2007


Well people, I'm glad you've enjoyed this latest plate of beans. This is a shrewd move by Dove, and I'll tell you why - the women in these ads are very attractive women of a certain age. Women in their target demo aspire to look like the women in the ads, not like 19-year-old waifs; that ship has long since sailed & sunk. Compare with the Cover Girl Cosmetics web site, and decide which brand has more appropriate imagery for a hot 60-year-old woman.

This is advertising 101. Well done, Dove.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2007


Any ad that features a woman not extremely young, extremely thin and extremely traditional "beauty," gets a thumbs up from me.

Gotta start somewhere, and I don't see any other company doing anything even remotely similar. Go Dove!
posted by agregoli at 8:08 AM on July 19, 2007


"I feel better at 43 than I ever did at 23 or 33."

Baby...who writes your presciptions?
posted by rougy at 8:16 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


of course unilever/dove is just trying to sell more soap, but if it has some knock-on beneficial impact (ie, that not every 'beautiful' woman on tv is under 25), then I reckon its ok..

its a bit like "corporate social responsibility"... yeah, shell is trying to promote itself as a "green" oil company as a means of changing its brand image.. but, if it does have some beneficial impact on the world (and i'm not saying it does, i don't know enough to make that conclusion) either throw its own actions or forcing other companies to also be "socially responsible", then its worth it.

the profit-seeking motive of corporations is not going vanish. apple is not your hip buddy; it's just a company who's niche to make money is particular brand exercise that you may or may not want to associate yourself with.

so, if the profit motive is everpresent, the question as a society is how do we best direct that motive so its negative side-effects are minimised, and its positive side-effects are maximised.

the complaint "they're just trying to make money" doesn't really hold water, because that's all corporations are ever going to do. its up to society to channel that process in the most beneficial way possible (whether through taxes, consumer protection regulations, competition laws, or social pressures).
posted by modernnomad at 8:27 AM on July 19, 2007


Thanks for articulating what I couldn't, modernnomad.

This campaign is not radical enough for some, too radical for others, but for most I think it falls squarely into the area of what advertising SHOULD be like, if we have to have ads at all (which I wish we didn't).
posted by hermitosis at 8:33 AM on July 19, 2007


How many comments in this viral marketing success so far?

Speaking of which, I'd like to announce the start of my personal mutual self-esteem campaign. SEND ME MONEY so I can finally buy a decent video card, the better to truly enjoy all those Youtube clips y'all keep pointing at at a full-screen setting instead of having to watch them in postage-stamp-sized browser windows. You'll know what kind and generous people you are, and I'll know what a worthy cause I am. There'll be increased and improved self-esteem all around, all ya gotta do is SEND ME MONEY!
posted by davy at 9:02 AM on July 19, 2007


davy, i don't think you understand what viral marketing is.

not every ad that gets talked about is "viral" by design.

this was a traditional ad by dove in so many ways -- it had a clear target market, a clear message, a well-known product, and a 30sec spot made for traditional network tv designed to tie those 3 things together.
posted by modernnomad at 9:06 AM on July 19, 2007


For the record...what dove sells with this ad is NOT soap. It's detergent. It's a sodium laurel sulfate base...which is a petroleum based sulfectant. Those of us that actually make soap get annoyed when detergent is called soap. (Sorry, it's one of those things that makes me crazy.)

That said, the ad was designed to cause controversy, and thereby create viral marketing buzz.
posted by dejah420 at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the Dove ad became "viral" after they pulled it because now people talk about it in the Intarweb. But I'll have a better understanding of this subject once people SEND ME MONEY for a decent video card. (Does my paypal address show up in my user profile now?)

Back in 2000 I didn't know (because I hadn't think to look at teenagers' wrists or care what they did with them) that Xian teens were running around wearing bracelets that said "WWJD" until I saw a news article about Al Gore's speech announcing his wonderful religious values. That's when I got "infected" by the "WWJD" marketing meme to the extent tyhat I started thinking and talking about what a stupid idea "WWJD" bracelets are and how Al Gore's mention had effective made "WWJD" so Last Decade. (It'd be wonderful if Mefites adopted SEND DAVY MONEY! bracelets as an truly hip accessory!)
posted by davy at 9:27 AM on July 19, 2007


dejah420, that is just good old-fashioned word-of-mouth, and there's nothing wrong with it. You could also call this a PR campaign.

I'd like to see a little more restraint with the inflammatory new words when there are perfectly cromulent old words that more accurately describe a phenomenon. "Viral", in the context of advertising, has come to mean something sneaky or insidious, a Trojan horse of an ad - you don't realize you've been shilling for some company until it's too late! That is not what this is.
posted by Mister_A at 9:33 AM on July 19, 2007


dejah, it's been running for months and months in Canada without creating (near as I can tell) a single word of controversy.

also, what Mister_A said is bang on.. there is a big difference between viral ads and traditional ads that hope to get a bit of "word of mouth" going... a viral ad is a cute girl drinking in a bar asking you to buy her a particular brand of rum-cocktail, and later you discover that the rum maker in question is paying a slew of cute young things to go to bars and do the same thing.

a sexually risque ad (though i have hard time seeing this dove ad as risque at all, but hey, maybe its a cultural thing) is not necessarily viral.
posted by modernnomad at 9:39 AM on July 19, 2007


Those of us that actually make soap get annoyed when detergent is called soap.

You're actually the first person in this thread to mention the word "soap".
posted by oneirodynia at 9:46 AM on July 19, 2007


After reading modernnomad's latest comment I feel I should clarify that SEND DAVY MONEY! is not an ad campaign for a particular brand of video card.
posted by davy at 9:49 AM on July 19, 2007


Dove calls many of it's products soap so I don't see what the problem is. I found it interesting that it's actually detergent - maybe that's why it irritates my skin so much, as I'm allergic to many detergents.
posted by agregoli at 9:51 AM on July 19, 2007


oneirodynia, not actually true. I used the word 'soap' in my comment. Mea culpa.

And using the word 'detergent' to describe a hygiene product is not going to help shift units.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:56 AM on July 19, 2007


Let's get down to brass tacks, here: Athena is teh HAWT!!~!
posted by eamondaly at 10:11 AM on July 19, 2007


slimepuppy: you're right, I missed humblepigeon's comment too. My bad.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2007


Please join me in not caring a whit what broadcast networks show or don't show.
posted by telstar at 12:28 PM on July 19, 2007


For the record...what dove sells with this ad is NOT soap. It's detergent. It's a sodium laurel sulfate base...which is a petroleum based sulfectant. Those of us that actually make soap get annoyed when detergent is called soap. (Sorry, it's one of those things that makes me crazy.)

Are you serious? Here in the UK we buy white bars of Dove soap, amongst many of the brand's other products. We call it soap. I'm sorry if that offends you but you're going to have to re-educate a hell of a lot of people.
posted by humblepigeon at 12:51 PM on July 19, 2007


Jesus, what's with the hate-on about it actually being detergent? Such nastiness.
posted by agregoli at 12:56 PM on July 19, 2007


Most of their products are grease and lacquer moisturizers and serums, not soap, anyway. Soap, after all, can be drying to dessicated, crepey gray mature skin.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:39 PM on July 19, 2007


dejah420, that is just good old-fashioned word-of-mouth, and there's nothing wrong with it. You could also call this a PR campaign.

I never implied that "viral" had negative semantics. Other people may have negative connotations with the word, but I consider viral to be anything that replicates itself and propagates...which this has done...hence the reason we're discussing it. ;)

Are you serious? Here in the UK we buy white bars of Dove soap, amongst many of the brand's other products. We call it soap.

The white bars *are* soap in the UK. The EU has insanely restrictive labeling requirements, and nothing that isn't soap can be sold as soap in the EU. Note that other bars, which are SLS based are called things like "beauty bars". Also, for the record, I didn't say anything about their bar products...I said "this product", which isn't soap. (For those that care, I believe Ivory is the only *soap* sold at the mass market level in the US. I can't speak to Canada's labeling laws.)

And reeducating people is one of the (rather uphill, Sisyphean) tasks that organic, handmade, old fashioned soap manufacturers realize they have to do. Just as a real tailor would tell you the difference between a bespoke suit and a set of walmart coveralls.
posted by dejah420 at 3:21 PM on July 23, 2007


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